Ambient’s advocate: DJ Champion

By Darren Young

It isn’t uncommon for a musician to claim to be a “man of the people,” but no one means it quite like Montreal-native Maxime Morin–better known as DJ Champion. Though his cool, ambient electronica might be so precise and careful that it sounds like it came from a machine, Morin is no robot.

“When you do a job, do it well,” says Morin. “It’s not a business approach, it’s a fucking human approach.”

Morin believes that his refusal to become a perform-o-bot has been an incredible boon to his sound. He has a human connection to the music, throwing his heart and soul into every live performance–like a living, breathing, real boy. Being a human, however, can have its drawbacks.

“I’m not happy all the time,” says Morin. “I can get real dark, but I do it when I’m on my own. It’s sadness, I can keep it for myself.”

Even though the sound of Chill ‘Em All, the latest Champion LP, was decidedly electronic, Morin performs all of his shows conducting a live band. Complete with four guitarists, one bassist and a vocalist, Morin relies on his band mates to keep his mind from wandering on stage.

“I try not to get bored [live],” says Morin. “If I’m not into [the music], there’s always one other member who does crazy stuff to get me going. They tell me to fuck off and make faces at me.”

During shows, Morin assumes his normal role of the composer for the group, but also takes on the additional job of conducting. As such, he needs all the help he can get to bring his energy up to the max.

“Our song structures are improvised,” explains Morin. “The musicians already know what they are going to play, but it is up to me as a conductor to use sign language to direct them when to play.”

While it might sound like a contradiction, Champion is just as spontaneous on record as he is live. Chill ‘Em All explored new electronic territory through the use of Morin’s unique four-guitar band, the G-Strings, and his incredible mixing abilities. Champion and the G-Strings are set to hit the studio soon, with hopes of having continuity between Chill ‘Em All and the new material.

“Guitars will obviously be there,” says Morin. “Champion is a band with four guitars. It will be natural to have the G-Strings there. I like the smooth, sexy music.”

Champion–the band and the DJ frontman they borrow the name from–is not a glorified drum machine, but smooth and sexy human beings. They are powered by adrenaline, not gasoline, and offer a great time to anyone attending their shows: man or machine.


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